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Zimbabwean Woman Shares Farming Success to Advance World Food Security

15 October 2012 - Martha Kanengoni, winner of DuPont Pioneer National Farming Competition in Zimbabwe, together with her husband Stanley Dzingayi will share a platform with other farmers from around the world to find solutions to ending hunger by participating in the invitation-only Global Farmer Roundtable dialogue held in conjunction with the 2012 World Food Prize Symposium in Des Moines, Iowa, USA.

Martha is no ordinary African rural woman. At 38, she and her husband, aged 55, have achieved remarkable farming success, by rural Zimbabwe standards. On their seven-hectare farm in Gokwe, 338 kilometres from Zimbabwe’s capital Harare, they have achieved yields of 7.5 tons per hectare by switching to high yielding maize varieties from DuPont Pioneer. The Sub-Saharan Africa average maize yield is less than 2 tons per hectare.

Since 2003 Martha and Stanley began growing Pioneer maize hybrids and applying improved agronomic practices – a move that has seen them increase their maize yields six-fold, improving their food security and cash income in the process. Nine years ago, their average maize yields were just 1.2 tons per hectare. It is this feat, along with outstanding farm management, that recently won the couple the top prize in a national farming competition for 2011/2012, sponsored by DuPont Pioneer and judged by the Department of Agricultural Technical and Extension Services (Agritex) in Zimbabwe. The two will share their farming experiences and observations about access to farm management information with farmers, stakeholders and media during the Oct. 16-17 Truth about Trade and Technology Global Farmer Roundtable, which builds on the work of Dr. Norman Borlaug, father of the Green Revolution, who challenged the world’s farmers to collaborate – learning from each other by sharing their collective experiences, wisdom and knowledge.

“Smallholder farmers and particularly women farmers are crucial to attaining food security. At DuPont Pioneer we are going to support other farmers like Martha to convert from open-pollinated varieties and farm-saved seed to high yielding maize hybrids,” said Pamela Chitenhe, DuPont Pioneer director - Africa.

“We are excited that we will be travelling to the US for a great learning opportunity: to see the latest farming technology being used there, the level of mechanization and maize yields that farmers in the US can achieve,” said Stanley and Martha in an interview. “We also look forward to learning about the contribution of Pioneer to global food security, and see what farmers in other countries are doing.”

Martha and Stanley are role models to other farmers in their village where they share their knowledge on improved farming technologies. Their well managed farm serves as a village demonstration plot and on it they showcase the superior performance of Pioneer® brand maize hybrids - PHB 30G19, PHB 3253 and P2859W. They also grow cotton, groundnuts, sweet potatoes and sorghum, while keeping cattle, goats and indigenous chicken. Like most rural women Martha works closely with her husband and six children on their farm, providing year-round labor for most of the operations, in addition to other duties of caring for her family. With the increased income, the farmers have bought more cattle, managed to put up a brick house with metal sheet roofing and paid for school fees for their children and medical care. Previously, they lived in a small, two-roomed mud walled and grass thatched house.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, giving women the same access as men to productive resources and decision making power will increase productivity on women’s farms up to 30 percent, and reduce the number of hungry people by as much as 17 percent – an impact that translates into improvements for as many as 150 million individuals, globally. One rural woman, Martha Kanengoni, shows that this can be done: one woman at a time. And today we celebrate her as she embodies the spirit of International Rural Women’s Day and contributes to ending global hunger and rural poverty.

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